Sunday, January 30, 2011


  She is one of the most captivating and recognizable faces within the Motor City's vibrant music scene. The fierce dark haired phoenix of Noir Leather's provocative ad campaigns. A uninhibited front woman whose stage presence alongside Vinnie Dombrowski for Motor City industrial icons CRUD, rivals that of Joan Jet and Wendy O. Williams. As unique as she is outspoken, Danielle Arsenault has gathered a treasure trove of experiences as diverse as her interests. Onstage, she may channel her inner rock chanteuse, and in the Noir ads, come across as Bettie Page's more forward, more imaginative cousin. But beyond the sensual image, that has at times outraced reality, is a deeply complex and sensitive lady of Detroit. The same confidence she demonstrates while wearing little more than a leopard print bikini on stage at The Ritz, is just as apparent, as she sits in a winter sweater and scarf, drinking hot tea, during an interview. She speaks with a genuine enthusiasm about her passion projects, such as energetic Devo tribute band 'Blockhead'. But there remains an element of caution, forged from years of constantly being recognized. An ever present, guarded concern in her eyes as we talked. On a snowy night in January, Danielle spoke intimately with the DRB about the foundation of growing up in a musical family, the personal struggles she faced as a teen, and her distinctive career as one of Detroit's most interesting and influential performers.

  Does it feel like forty-one ?

  Not in the aspect that I feel like 'Old! My gawd I'm so old'. But, as far as experience, yeah, I packed a lot in there, too. It feels like sixty. No, I'm Just kidding. But when I get hurt now, it takes longer to heal. I know how old I am. People think I'm younger because of my energy. The way I look. The way I dress. Maybe act a little more juvenile. But, yeah, I know it's forty-one.

  How did you come to be involved with Noir Leather ?

  I had an interest in the lifestyle quite young, like fifteen or sixteen. I would run to the Metro Times every week and search for the Noir ad. I would look at it, gaze at it, just kind of mesmerized by it. Study it. Touch it. Read everything on it. There was something about it that I loved. I think the first thing that drew me to it was the fashion. Leather. Shiny clothes, heels, stockings. So then I saw they were having a party. It was the third party they'd ever had, now they're up to something like seventy. This was sixteen years ago. So I went. I talked my ex-boyfriend into going with me. We got all dressed up. We wore masks to be incognito and we won 'Best Dressed Couple'. I had a great time. So I started going to the parties alone and having an even better time. And then they approached me and asked me if I wanted to model. And the shows it's not just a straight up runway show, it's little skits, and that's where I learned about the playing, the b/d and s/m scene. Bondage discipline, sadomasochism, and I kind of liked it. And in the shows I would play 'bottom', sub, some light stuff, whippings stuff like that. That's where I kind of learned the ropes of the play. I am kind of a bossy person already. Not in every situation, but in situations where I know what I'm doing or if it needs a leader. I'm definitely ready to step up, and take control if need be. The playing is uh . . .I don't think it's always exactly what people think. It's not about a lot of pain and anger. For me it's 'playing'. It's really like two sides of my own personality. I'm really really nice and I'm really, really mean. I love to tickle. I have an uncontrollable tickle fetish. I was tickle-tortured as a child. Held down and tickled.


  Who did that to you ?

  My brothers and sister tickled me with their nails.

  How does the your take charge personality mesh within CRUD, a group composed of musicians with very distinct personalities ?

  In CRUD it's not so much a situation where I'm a take charge person. It's more of a role that needed to be filled, that I'm perfect for. It's a lot of direction by Vinnie. He gives me an explanation in a few words about what he wants here, what he wants there, and then I do it. It's a little bit of an acting role. Not acting so that it's phony, but just bringing out one of my personalities.


  How much of what occurs onstage with CRUD is acting and how much is really Danielle ?

  Well I did say acting, but it's not really acting. It's all me. And I know when they were looking for a female for CRUD, I know they did their first show with female vocals on a track. But Vinnie knew he wanted to have a live female there. And I think he went to, pretty sure it was Keith from Noir Leather and Vinnie said 'I want a girl who's been onstage with a band so that she's comfortable and knows what she's doing, can sing, and has the look of a Noir leather model'. Keith said 'What about Danielle ?' So, Vinnie came over to my house and explained what he wanted. I told him 'I'm the girl for you!'


  When did you realize that you wanted to be a musician ?

  I always sang when I was growing up. Everybody in my family was into music heavily. My mom sang and she brought me up on different types of music like blues, Zappa, I wasn't just influenced by music when I became a young adult, I was influenced from the day I was born. I love the seventies. Seventies rock, acid rock, stoner rock. I would start singing all the TV and radio jingles. I cut my teeth singing to the B-52s, cuz there's many voices there, and I knew I could mimic those sounds. I was just out of high school and dating this guy with a band where they would practice three nights a week. I was bored. What am I supposed to do three nights a week? I would watch them practice and knew I could do better. So I answered an ad. My first band was Mutant Press with Jerome Youngman who lived in Berkeley at the time. I think he was a one time member of the Motor City Mutants, now he's moved to Texas. He was a one man band and added me. So it was almost the same thing as CRUD. It was me and him singing together. I was dancing and singing a bit. Doing a stage performance, performing with the whole body. I wore an S&M kind of look then, too. Our claim to fame was we opened up for The Mentors at Todd's.


  How have you managed to age so gracefully ?

  Good genes and a 'young at heart' attitude. A playful attitude toward everything.


  What kind of impact has substance had on your life ?

  About what you would expect from someone in my scene. It's around me. It's been around me. I started to experiment pretty young in high school. Experimented with . . not everything. ALMOST, everything. I think when I was young it was part peer pressure, part escapism. I had issues and problems in high school, like everybody does. I was looking for escape, acceptance. I wanted to be cool. I had a real chip on my shoulder in high school. They weren't like the glory days for me at all.

  They weren't ?

  I was mad. Now I realize that one problem was . . instead of trying to be liked and possibly failing, here I'm just going to make people not like me. I was kind of a bully. Kind of mean. I walked around with a dirty look on my face all the time, bumping into people in the hallways. Got in some fights, I was 'one of the guys'. Hung out with a lot of guys, skipped a lot. I was really bad in school.
I was angry.


  Why were you so angry ?

  I don't know. I'm not now. It's a difficult time for people, bodies changing, pressures. I wanted to rebel. And my mom wanted to try to keep me in line, but because I was her sixth child . . she was getting a little tired. Sometimes she would try really hard to keep me down and I protested. We had times where we fought really bad. Told her I hated her. Pushed her one time and my mom's really strong. She knocked me on my ass one time, but we got past that. We're great now. I'm not going to say friends, because you're never supposed to be friends with your parents. But I love my mom and dad. And I appreciate what mom tried to do.


  When you sing lyrics like 'Where's the Cocaine?' how does feel ?

  I didn't want to do that, but then I did. I guess at first I was a little uncomfortable. But on that same album, Vinnie also does a song where he says 'I did it without the drugs'. So I think those songs represent different times in his life. And they could also represent different times in many people's lives.


  Do you feel like you've accomplished everything you wanted to in music since you began your career ?

  Yes. Back then, I thought I wanted to be 'a star'. Now, I'd be happy if it didn't grow much bigger. As long as I can always make money off of it, make a living. Getting a taste of fame, it's not exactly what it's cracked up to be. I love the performing, the attention on stage. But when I'm just walking around going to shows, I want to be a regular Joe. I don't want to be crowded or idolized, which has happened a few times. I want to be normal. I want to be huge in Japan, but unknown here.


  A hundred years from now, how would you like to be remembered ?

  A cool chick with a hot ass. Smart. Funny. Very funny.

  Is it difficult, given your career choices, to maintain a romantic relationship ?

  In the past it's been a little bit difficult for the men I've been involved with. But, I was never really interested in being with the person that I'd thought I'm was going to be with for the rest of my life. I'm kind of a serial monogamist, I just date someone for three or four years. It wasn't really an issue for me, but the guys had some difficulty with it sometimes. But I always tried to explain to them at the shows that people are going to check me out. They're going to look at my ass. But, that's because I am telling them too. But any other time, I try to give them attention. So yeah, it's been trouble for them.
  When you were 19, you were diagnosed with leukemia.

  I had to have a bone marrow transplant and Chemotherapy. I was in the hospital for two months. Now they do it outpatient. It was kind of experimental at the time. In my wing at Harper hospital there were probably twenty of us all having transplants or different types of cancer. Two of my friends that I made in there, died. A six year old girl, and a forty year old woman. I was 19 so I was strong and I was able to heal. I actually had a really good time. I was kind of pretending I had my own place, since they gave us each a really large room. I brought music in there. I could see the Magic Stick from there. I smoked weed in there. I had sex with my boyfriend in there. There were really hard times, but when I look back I only remember the good times. But, I realized what chemotherapy is. It takes you as close to death as possible until the cancer dies and hopefully all your major organs make it back. I'd see the looks on people's faces when they came to visit me, and that was when I realized how bad I was.

  How did it affect you ?

  Most people think it would make you want to take care of yourself more, and be really really careful with your health. No. Some people are so full of themselves. They say 'there's always tomorrow. No, you don't know that. Life's precious. Something could happen at any moment at any time. I don't mind dying, I just don't want it to be painful.

  A bone marrow transplant is pretty fucking painful.

  It was still kind of experimental at the time, too. I know they've gotten better, but yeah it was a big deal. Large needles stuck into my pelvic bone. I still have pain when it gets cold. My sister was a perfect match donor. Overall it took me a good two years to really come back from that.

  Do you think you're addicted to attention ?

  Interesting question. Hmmmm. Yes, I guess it's safe to say that. When I'm not performing with a band I still have other things I do. The modeling. I'm still in the Hells Belle's Girly Revue, a burlesque troupe. Kind of a peripheral member, so I don't do every show. But when I'm not gigging heavily, I'll perform with them.

  Do you think you're someone young women should look up to ?

  Yes. I do have some younger fans on Facebook. As a person, I don't think I'm overly crass. It's been pointed out to me I don't really swear. I think they see some of my photos, and some of those are really sexual images. I don't think that's really a shock or surprise to kids these days. As long as they realize that's a performance, not me walking around like that every day, then I don't think I'm a bad image for girls to look up to. And so many young people today want to be famous. And you ask 'for what?', but they don't have a reason. They just want to be famous to be famous.

  What is left for CRUD to achieve at this point ?

  Get out there this year, if we have the funding to tour and promote it heavily. Definitely try to get back to the UK, again, if we can secure the funding. Our second record is the last one we owed to the label, so I don't know how much they'll support our next tour or where the funding will come for that. But we definitely have to get back to the UK. We were really well received over there, really well loved. Tour. Tour. Make two videos. Play. Blow everybody's hair back. Turn them on.

  You've describe your role with CRUD as being on a 'need to know' basis . .

  As far as the business, yeah.

  Yet, you're the face on the t-shirts, the album covers, the posters. How do you balance that ?

  Yeah, It's fine. I'm fine with that. Now, with Blockhead it's the first band I started on my own, so I am starting to handle all that. Getting everyone together, booking the gigs, but before that I didn't have a lot of experience with that end of things. Dana (Forrester) is very driven and experienced. And, Vinnie too. So I'm fine with letting them handle that. I can learn from it and use what I'm learning for Blockhead.

  Has CRUD been the most rewarding musical experience of your career ?

  Yes, because I like what we're doing. I'm a perfect fit for it. It's right up my alley, the music, the image the content. I've been in bands before where I was a little embarrassed. I didn't love it. I couldn't just put it on and go as Ms.Awesome. But I was gaining experience. One band I was in, got really popular, really fast and I was seduced by all the attention, so I stayed in it. But the guitar player was writing the lyrics and I was embarrassed to sing them. They were 'Wahhh! another boy shit on me. Boo hoo!' Mentally I was way beyond that. So I am definitely proud of CRUD. And David Black's in my band. I've been a fan of Seduce since I was fifteen.

  What does the future hold for you as an artist the next two years?

  Well, I'm trying some instruments. I want to add to my repertoire. But I have trouble with anything I don't do well with off the bat, anything I have to practice. I have a bass, a guitar, a mini theramin. I made my own xylophone. I'd like to create a little more, on my own. Right now my baby is Blockhead, it's the first thing I built from the ground up. So right now that's the next thing.

  In regards to your tribute band 'Blockhead', why Devo ?

  They've always been one of my favorite bands since I was young. I have four older brothers and one older sister and they were all into different kinds of music. And my mom also brought me up on music. So my brother was into punk and new wave, so it was just one of the things that was around me all the time. Everyday. I love them. And not just the two or three (mainstream) hits they have. Their deep cuts. They were, for their time, and even now,
experimental. I love them.

  Can we expect a Blockhead album of Devo covers ?

  I don't know if we want to record, because I'm not sure if people want to buy that. But more shows, better shows, bigger shows.

   So Blockhead is strictly a performance vehicle?

  Yeah, I think. Not exactly sure. That was a dream of mine for about four or five years. And finally I was talking to a few people to be in it. “Do you want to be in this when I do it. I don't know what's going to happen”. I called them up every few months. “Blockheads gonna happen!” And now it's happening. I can't believe I got all the people so easily. And, I made sure it was people that didn't just like Devo, but loved Devo. And, as I was putting it together, it suddenly occurred to me 'Wait a minute. Are people going to want to see this?' and they do. I didn't plan this one, but it kind of fell on me.

  Do you ever consider a solo career?

  It's not super-duper important to me. But maybe. I'm not too interested in sharing too much of what's in my head. But I'll speak in a lot of metaphors. I don't want to be too figured out. I want people to get me but not think 'Aw Shit, she's crazy!' I don't think I would ever have a project 100% directed by me. I'll always collaborate.

  If you could go back to that 19 year old Danielle in the hospital fighting leukemia,what would you say to her ?

  Keep on, keeping on. Even the bad things that happened was all a good lesson learned. Do what you do!

for the DRB

Monday, January 17, 2011


  Ozzy Osbourne. Quiet Riot. Whitesnake. Ygnwie Malmsteen. DIO. Blue Oyster Cult. A virtual who's who of heavy metal, hard rock luminaries and bass legend Rudy Sarzo has played for ALL of them. But, the first quality you'll notice in talking with this bass legend is, despite his storied career as a vital, albeit subtle, participant in Heavy Metal history, he's unusually slow to criticize. Perhaps this is a developed survival mechanism ? After all, interviewer after interviewer has requested Sarzo unveil his emotions in raw detail, after he witnessed close friend and peer, guitar legend Randy Rhoads perish in a brutal and controversial plane crash. It's comes as no surprise that in the past decade Sarzo has refused to discuss the painful memories further, even writing a book, 'Off The Rails', to publicly provide his version of events. And, possibly quell more of the same questions he's been answering since March 25th, 1982. Perhaps its years touring, living, and performing with names like David Coverdale, Ygnwie Malmsteen, and Ozzy Osbourne that have taught him a patience and respect for fame and fortunate circumstance. (And, for the record, not the kind, lovable dufus 'Dad Ozzy' we all got to see on the MTV heresy 'The Osbourne's'. No, this was the early eighties drunken rampaging Ozzy)
  Either way, Rudy Sarzo comes across as one of the most well-balanced rock musicians you will ever meet. He's understandably reserved when referencing the Rhoads death, having accepted that he will forever be linked with the loss. But, he's also surprisingly frank when discussing his current role as bassist for classic rock legends Blue Oyster Cult, and his interests outside the realm of music.

  Describe the frustration of being so closely associated with one of rock's great tragedies and having to continuously answer questions surrounding Randy Rhoads death ?

  I wrote a book about it called 'Off The Rails'. Every time I do an interview and have to relive it again in order for me to give you a proper answer, it's very painful. A very painful process to go back to that place again. These are really good questions, but they're very painful questions. Everybody connected with Randy, and I have never been the same.

  You were a member of Quiet Riot at the peak of their success. You were also a member of Whitesnake at the peak of their success. How were the two experiences different ?

  Good question. Very, very different. Quiet Riot was a band I was a member of from the very beginning. I was member through the Randy Rhoads era and through the 'Mental Health' era. And both (versions of) Quiet Riot struggled to make it to the very very top. Were talking about rejection from record companies even after the album 'Mental Health' was completed we saw rejection from the industry in Los Angeles because nobody thought that record or even that genre of music was going to do anything. We're talking 1982-83. We had that record done in 82' and it was ready to hit the streets in March of 1983. From the moment we finished the record to the moment it was ready to be released by the label, we couldn't find management. So we had to beg our old manager to come back and manage us. Nobody thought the band was going to do anything. So they were different situations, coming from the very, VERY bottom with Quiet Riot to the very top. Whereas with Whitesnake we went to the peak in the US, Whitesnake was a very popular band already in Europe, South America, and Asia all the other major markets except for the United States. Matter of fact, Whitesnake was the opening act for Quiet Riot in 1984, which was the last tour that I did with Quiet Riot, the Condition Critical Tour.
With Whitesnake it was different because all of the members had previously tasted success. Tommy with Ozzy, then Pat Travers, and Black Oak Arkansas. Vivian Campbell with DIO. Adrien Vandenberg with his own band Vandenberg. And myself. We knew how blessed we were to be in the incredible situation to be playing in Whitesnake, because we were all refugees from other situations.

  Are you the most skilled artist to play Bass in a Heavy Metal group?

  No! But definitely one of the most blessed men to play bass. Blessed with all the incredible bands I've been apart of and all the incredible people. Incredible experiences. The way I look at music, whether it's playing Bass or playing drums, it isn't a competition. It's not about who can play the fastest or the loudest. Music is a language. Different musicians have different stories to tell with their instrument. Different statements, or opinions with their songs. And I just happen to have played with the most talented, most efficient people that have really beautiful things to say, like Randy Rhoads with his guitar, or Ronnie James Dio with his voice. I've been very, very blessed to have shared the stage and studio with such people.

  Who was more difficult to work for: David Coverdale, Yngwie Malmsteen, or Ozzy Osbourne ?

  Oh Wow. None of the above. They were all a pleasure to work with. It's funny, because Ygnwie had the worst reputation, but he was a sweetheart. Truly professional, truly inspiring. Ozzy was great. David was great.

  In response to that, several of the people you've played with have reputations for being substance abusing egomaniacs. How is it possible that you have been so successfully working with such a variety of people with 'difficult' reputations ?

  Maybe by the time I got to play with Yngwie he had changed his attitude. When I was working with him, it was the 'Attack Tour 2004. His wife April, she manages him. She was on the road with us. She was taking care of all the business. And, his son Antonio was on the tour with us. He was a happy, fulfilled man. He had his family with him on the road. And his band and he was playing his music every night. I can't think of a more rewarding experience than that. He was great.

  Did Tawny Kitaen ruin Whitesnake ?

  No. I don't think any woman can actually ruin a band. I think the man himself has to be influenced. Look, women are not the only ones that ruin bands. Male influences that can influence a band or certain people. But it's up to the individual whether or not to allow influences from people outside of the band. I didn't think that Tawny or anybody can break up a band. It's like the old saying Guns don't kill people, people kill people

  Ozzy has been referenced in interviews claiming he punched you in the face.

  Actually I don't know if I've ever read that anywhere. I've never read an interview where he said that, but I do write about it in my book. So there you go, you're getting it from me.  The source.

  Who influenced you to choose the bass guitar ?

  Paul McCartney

  If you hadn't played music what career path would you have chosen ?

  I wanted to be a movie director, which is telling a story through the visual. And, that's something I do now with my animation. In addition to being a musician, I am a 3d animator. Right now we have the tools with software and hardware that we can actually utilize to tell a story.

  Who will play you in the film version of 'Off The Rails' ?

  If it's animated, I will say Mickey Mouse.

  With all the bands you've played with over your storied career, which experience has been the most rewarding ?

  They're so different. They all have different meanings. Playing with Ozzy, Randy and Tommy. And Sharon (Osbourne), I learned a lot from her. That was the most incredibly significant because it was the first time. I went from sleeping on a floor to playing with Ozzy Osbourne\e. It was that journey from the bottom to the very top. Sometimes it's the journey that you remember the most. It's how you got to the top that was the most rewarding. And, again with Quiet Riot, another journey to the top. Going from opening up for a bunch of bands in 1983 to seeing 'Mental Health' go to number one on Billboard. With Whitesnake it was different because all of the members had previously tasted success. Tommy with Ozzy, then Pat Ravers, Black Oak Arkansas. Vivian Campbell with DIO. Adrien Vandenberg with his own band Vandenberg. And myself. We knew how blessed we were to be in the incredible situation to be playing in Whitesnake, because we were all refugees from other situations.

  You're sixty years old. . .

  Hang on, I have to change my pampers.

  Does it feel like sixty ?

  You know what, I hate to be crude, but as long as I can still get it up, I'm fine. It all comes down to that.

  Do you feel like an actual member of Blue Oyster Cult, or do you feel like a session musician ?

  When you join a band as legendary Blue Oyster Cult you have to respect their legacy and their trajectory. They have been around for such a long time, that unless you've been there from day one. There's is no way that I could ever feel like I am an equal in contribution as Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma. It's impossible. They've been doing it for 35 years! One of the reasons I've been successful is because I always join a band, the band doesn't join me. In a case like Blue Oyster Cult, it's they don't make me feel like a sideman, it's just the reality of the situation. I have to look at it like 'this is their band and I'm here to do the best job I can as their bass player to help continue the legacy of the band. Very simple.

  Other than the obvious, if you could go back to 1979, what would you change ?

  I would tell myself to buy shares in Microsoft and Apple. That's it.

  What advice would you give yourself musically ?

  Listen, it's kind of like the butterfly effect. If I changed just one increment of whatever I did in my life, I wouldn't be where I'm at right now. To be honest with you, I am very happy with where I've been, where I'm at and where I am going.

  What do the next few years hold for you ?

  I have a strategy set up for the next one year, two years, five years, ten years.
I'm looking forward to making a couple of records. A lot of people don't make records anymore. And I think it's so important to create new music. Musicians were creative creatures, if we keep doing the same thing over and over again we don't grow. And what doesn't grow dies. I am really looking forward to making a couple of records this year. More touring. There's a couple of other projects, everything's being put together. Being put in place.. There's going to be some significant news announced in the next two to three weeks. It's going to be a very busy year for me and that's all I can say right now.

for the DRB
*Edited for clarity and content*

Sunday, January 9, 2011


  It's rare that for a single moment the universe stops and focuses on one song. But that's exactly what happened when a clever little single entitled 'Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover' started getting noticed. In fact, it reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and MTV found the original version of the video to be a bit too racy. (This was the age before The Real World and those conservative New Jersey artisans currently being portrayed on another Music Television project that has nothing to do with music.) For that single moment, Sophie B. Hawkins had the ear of the music world. In fairness, her first album is well crafted and well-deserved of the critical praise it received including a Grammy for Best New Artist. She went on to repeat her success with her second album, 1994's uneven 'Whaler' which featured AOR radio staple 'As I Lay Me Down'. 'Down' was a pop hit, but lacked the unique fire and passion that made 'Damn' timeless. 1998 proved to be a pivotal year for Hawkins as a documentary by her longtime partner Gigi Gaston entitled 'The Cream Will Rise' was released covering in depth Hawkins deeply complex relationship with her family. That yeah, she was drawn into a contentious and bitter dispute with her label Sony Music over the production of third album 'Timbre', including a bizarre argument concerning the removal of a banjo track from one of the songs. 'Timbre' was eventually released in 1999, but without any promotional support from Sony.
 The DRB recently talked with Sophie about her views on the world, her career, and what should be considered the greatest horror film of all time.

  Has your career progressed in the way, as a younger artist, you imagined it would ?

  My career has not progressed the way I'd thought it would, because I never thought I'd have a career! I always knew I'd write songs and be an avid musician, and paint, but I've become more than I imagined, and now I am much less than I imagine I will be.

  What has been the most disappointing aspect of your career as a professional musician?

  I had so little confidence as a performer, and I've come to realize that performing is one of my strongest and most creative states. Had I pushed myself to tour more earlier on, with the first single, and perform more in general, I would have a bigger reach today. I still build my audience, but the crucial building time was my first album and Sony saw me as a radio singles artist. I could have done more out of the box. Damn it!

  Does Christmas hold a special meaning for you ? What's your favorite Christmas song ?

  No reply.

  What experience from your years of touring has taught you the most about yourself ?

  Touring has taught me that my most vital and creative self is the unconscious and unselfconscious Sophie B. Hawkins who lets it all out in front of a curious audience. I am at my best when I'm raw, scared and tired.

  What can we expect from SBH in the next two years as a musician ?

  Right now, I am figuring out how best to get my new material out. I'm studying the internet market as we speak and will definitely get a song and video out soon. I am the lyricist and composer on a musical Gigi Gaston brought me in on, it's a totally original work and we've had the first reading in NYC with a stellar cast, including Kristin Chenoweth. I am very passionate about this project. Also, I've begun a book, and I hope to finish it by the end of this year.

  What challenges are left for you to overcome ?

  The feeling that I can't get my work out there the way I'd like to, I have no problem creating the stuff, and so I'm working hard on myself, my mind, my attitude to break those barriers down.

  Of which of your works are you the most proud of and why ?

  'As I Lay Me Down' because it seems to have affected so many people in a positive way, as if it's a song from everyone's child self. I think that song came through me like an angel, and I am so blessed to have been open to it and given voice to it. It's the purity within everyone that came through me. It happened a second time, in the form of my son, Dashiell.

  Is our country headed on the right course ?

  I feel our country is headed in the correct direction now, because the people of America have realized that materialism, politicism and narcissism are self destructive. I feel we are taking responsibility and not looking to Washington to take care of us and even represent us, we are holding those we elect accountable. If our economy gets worse I believe the people can take the bull by the horns, be mentally strong and resourceful. In a way, we've grown spiritually through the challenges. Each American has to take care of their own business and when we do, we raise the bar for those we empower to make the laws. We are awake now, as a country, and are putting our families, our neighbors and our country ahead of party ideology.

  What's the best horror movie ever made ?

  The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Scary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  If it all ended tomorrow would you feel that you accomplished everything you wanted to in music ?

  If it all ended tomorrow I'd be so pissed, I haven't nearly done what I think I can now do, even with this musical. Please God don't let it end tomorrow!

for the DRB
*edited for clarity and content

Thursday, January 6, 2011


  Apparently all the popping noises we keep hearing over at Rolling Stone is the pleasant sound of every RS music critic pulling their head out of Kanye West's ass. It's a disappointing truth that West is a nothing more than desperately sensational pick.  It's what a print media icon does when they're catering to advertisers and 8th graders in an effort to stay relevant.  Here at the DRB, we actually take the time to listen to these records, repeatedly, so the subtle nuances that are often lost in the Ipod shuffle have more time to sink in. Don't cry and wail because the list isn't completely comprised of Detroit area acts, Indie rock heartthrobs, or national megastars. We go with what makes an impression, what sticks in our souls, and the music we firmly believe deserves praise. In other words, we do what the hell we want and recommend what we please. So, without further adulation or pontification, the DETROIT ROCK BLOG presents: Our heavily researched, heavily debated, and battle tested BEST OF 2010 (and 2009) LIST:


  Goddamn it, CRUD!! I'm sick to death of having my expectations exceeded! You fiends set the bar too high with this noisy, sex rock masterpiece that defies the typical industrial cliches on every track! Just when we think it can't possibly get better, in come the horns, the HORNS, and sex bomb Danielle reciting Hail Mary's. No kidding around, at the next CRUD concert, I fully expect guitarist Dave Black to drop his guitar, raise his hands up to the ceiling, and reveal his secret identity: Ultraman.
  On record and on stage, electrifying.

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

  I tried hard to purposely not like this band. Even in my sleep, I fought it, imagining myself in a brawl with Hunter S. Thompson or whether this classifies as 'music'. However, after, we here at the Blogs headquarters saw a copy of the video for 'Drunk Girls', there was no turning back. Sigh. This is a record that gets under your skin from the first listen. It's so fucking irritating that I almost chose to not include it. But the truth is, it's nearly the best national release of 2010.


The Black Keys – Brothers

  Each of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney's albums age like a Chateau Chantal Merlot (that's red wine, you savages!), although on a song for song comparison, nothing yet has matched the sheer crotch rock audacity of earlier single 'Your Touch'. This album, as a constructive whole, certainly comes close, and many critics seem to agree with the DRB for once.



The National - High Violet

  You know what ? Fuck the descriptions. Download this one, buy it, on my personal recommendation. Put it on, listen to it all the way through, three times, and remember what you felt like the first time you listened to Tommy. It's that good.


Jessica Ripka – Don't Listen To My Face

  A torrent of angry emails from my hard rock/punk rock/anger rock minions will result from this selection. Yes, I know it's Mcglachlan-esqe pop. But two things: One, sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone. Jessica has a White Stripes garage rock streak hidden underneath all the charm. Two, listen to the gentle harmonies and lush majesty (typical adjectives for this type of DIY daydream pop album) and you will be irretrievably hooked.

The Ruiners – Happy Birthday Bitch!

  Some contentious office debate rose up over the inclusion of this album. However, the DRB's chief department of fist fighting simpletons were able to agree on one thing: this is the album Ruiners fans have been waiting for. With Bitch, Rick Ruiner and his rock and roll family have successfully captured their ferocious live energy on record. Just listen to fun they're have with 'Sugar Buzz' and 'Broken Halo', and I truly believe that's what's so enjoyable about bitch. The fun arrives nonstop across this record. It may not be U2, but on Friday, at 5pm, when the good times are about to go napalm, it's the first, best choice for the CD player or Ipod.

Best New Artist:
The Fabulous Miss Wendy – The Fabulous Miss Wendy

  It's been a loooooooong time, since we've been completely blown away with an artist's level of raw talent, natural beauty, and infectious enthusiasm for music and life. Laying it on a bit thick, are we ? First, contemplate the fact she covers Iggy & the Stooges AND The MC5 in concert. Then go listen to this disc. The Fabulous Miss Wendy makes Taylor Swift look like the prissy ex-girlfriend you dumped in ninth grade for her hot girlfriend with the powder blue Mohawk.

Best EP: The Eeks – The Ladykill Award EP

  This band has yet to get the attention they deserve, but it will come. 'She Screams' was narrowly beaten out for best song by ONE VOTE!! Were anxiously awaiting the release of their upcoming full length album.

Joe Hertler – Sleeping Giant EP
Glitter Trash – Glitter Trash

Best Song:  Glitter Trash – "I Need Sex!"

  There's an entire punk rock revolution going on this very moment in Detroit, that the masses are missing out on. The spirit of that revolution, is contained within the flawed brilliance of this jagged piece of iron. Those of us fortunate enough to document the forefront, will look back and remember with sensual affection these furious days and furious singles.

The Eeks – 'She Screams'
The Ruiners – 'Fix That Broken Halo'
CRUD – 'We'll Not Be Broken'

These albums were released in 2009, but we stumbled upon them (drunkenly) in 2010:

  The Black Ryder - Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride
 Shoegaze masterpiece. When our kid's kids are talking about music, the discussions will include Austrailia's sexiest musical export: The Black Ryder. Imagine your grandchildren discovering 'Gone Without Feeling' for the first time, as they light up their first . . cigarette.

  The Joy Formidable - A Balloon Called Moaning

  Whatever the hell the title means, The Joy Formidable will win you over with their half-shoe gaze, half-drone heartache anthems. Their sadness is saved from approaching The Cure's level of wallowing self pity by the ethereal vocals of Ritzy Brian 

  Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue

  I was the biggest skeptic of this album that could exist. How can it be Alice with Layne? Well, in all honesty, it is and it isn't. I'm still not pleased with Cantrell's lack of originality. Tribute or not, how difficult is it finding a Staley-sound alike ? However, lyrically and musically, this album is head of the class for 2009.

  The Hard Lessons – Arms Forest

  In one unlikely album, The Hard Lessons summarize what it means to be Detroit. They demonstrate how a pop rock daffodil can grow from grit, desolation and despair.
Best Detroit Album of 2009.

for the DRB